June 24, 2019: Dr Tom Leppard, Special Red and White Canada Day Programme.
Paul Graham introduced our guest speaker, Dr. Tom Leppard, who is a graduate of the U of C with a degree in Canadian military history. He is a teacher, who is married to Karen, with two children and two grandchildren. He has just returned from attending the 75th Anniversary of D-Day at Juno Beach and to tell us how “great we are”.
Tom provided an excellent slide presentation to tell us about the role Canada played on D-Day and in the Second World War. Canadians were responsible for one of the five D-Day beaches, with others divided up between the British and Americans. Fourteen thousand Canadian soldiers would come ashore June 6, 1944, and for many it would be their first and last taste of combat.
Tom showed us many pictures of 10 KL of Juno Beach, the solders, ships and equipment. Operation Overload was comprised of 7000 ships departing from Britain. The soldiers were split up to invade five landing points along the coast of northern France, each with its own code name. The U.S. Army was assigned to Utah and Omaha beaches, the British were tasked with taking Gold and Sword beaches, and the Canadians drew Juno beach.
One of the dark chapters is part of the story of the D-Day invasion. Beginning June 7, 1944, the day after Canadian troops stormed ashore on Juno beach, more than 150 Canadian soldiers, who had been taken prisoner by a regiment of the 12th SS “Hitler Youth” Panzer Division, were murdered in cold blood.
Tom concluded his comments by providing an overview of the “Field of Crosses Memorial” project which serves as a homecoming for the more than 4000 Canadian Armed Forces members from southern Alberta who were “buried where they fell” while in combat. We talk about the sacrifice, but this shows us the crosses which bear the names of fallen service members, located on Memorial Drive.
Joe Klassen expressed the thanks of the club for providing a “sense of realism”. He then presented Dr Leppard with our world famous Boltman.
reported by Mike Carlin
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